Aaron Wang devoured the first season of All-Round Champion, a teen sports competition series from the streaming platform BYU.TV. “The thought entered my head to apply for it when they were casting for season three,” he remembers. Then the waiting game began. “I kept asking my parents if they had heard any news from the show,” he remembers. Then he got word: he was chosen to participate. “I was so pleasantly surprised and happy beyond belief.”
For Aaron, a sixth grader at Carmel Del Mar Elementary School in Carmel Valley, the show was a natural fit as its unique premise brings top young athletes from around North America together to compete in a series of events outside their perfected expertise. Aaron’s own personal expertise lies in track cycling. Currently racing for the San Diego Bicycle Club, his deft talent has earned him the distinction of being in the top 1% in his age group in North America.
“I got into track because of my older sister Natalie Wang, who is a freshman this year at Torrey Pines High School,” he says of his sibling, an accomplished athlete in her own right who has collected a variety of accolades. “My father would take me along to her practices at the San Diego Velodrome.”
Premiering March 30 on BYU.TV (a free family streaming platform launched by Brigham Young University), All-Round Champion is the North American spinoff of a popular Norwegian TV show, which won an International Emmy Kids Award. For the latest season, which was filmed throughout a three-month period this past fall in Toronto, Canada, the production was unusually tight thanks to strict COVID-19 protocols. Aaron appears in 11 episodes.
“My parents weren’t even allowed to come with me to drop me off,” Aaron remembers, noting the contestants had to adhere to a strict two-week quarantine upon arrival. Adding to Aaron’s experience is that he also holds the distinction of being the youngest contestant selected to appear in the history of the series.
Still, Aaron readily acclimated to the experience, filmed constantly whether he was competing in track cycling or the show’s other challenges, an ever-changing Olympic-style slate which could range from wakeboarding to gymnastics. “It was strange at first to have 10 or 12 cameras following me around all the time,” he says. “Even in moments you wish the camera wasn’t there, you’d still be filmed. It felt weird after the show was over not to have to be ‘mic’d-up.’”
Unlike the cutthroat nature of some reality competition series, Aaron says his favorite part was becoming close with his fellow contestants. “(I got to meet) all of these amazing athletes and I made lifelong friends,” says Aaron, who also relished the chance to participate in a host of sports aside from track cycling. “I learned from the best athletes in each sport because the guest coaches were world champions, Olympic medalists or all-stars in their field.” That includes people like Perdita Felicien, a star hurdler.
As for whether Aaron triumphs will be revealed as the new season rolls out. Until then, he is setting his sights beyond the realm of reality TV. “My goal is to become a national track champion and then a world champion,” Aaron says. “I want to be an ambassador for track cycling.”
All-Round Champion premieres March 30 on BYU.TV. Streaming is free online. For more information, visit www.byutv.org/arc